A set of “irreplaceable” gold rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots to her execution in 1587 are among historic treasures worth more than £1m stolen in a raid at Arundel castle.
Other items taken in the burglary at the castle in West Sussex – home to the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for 850 years – include coronation cups given by Mary to the Earl Marshal, as well as gold and silver items.
The artefacts were taken from display cabinets in the part of the castle open to the public.
Staff were alerted to the break-in at 10.30pm on Friday, after a burglar alarm went off and police were sent to the scene.
A car found burnt out and abandoned nearby is thought to have been involved in the raid.
“Police are seeking thieves who broke into Arundel castle and stole gold and silver items worth in excess of £1m,” a Sussex police spokesman said.
“Various items have been stolen of great historical significance. These include the gold rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587, several coronation cups given by the sovereign to the Earl Marshal of the day, and other gold and silver treasures.”
The rosary was of little intrinsic value as metal, the police said, but was “irreplaceable” as part of the nation’s heritage.
A spokesman for Arundel Castle Trustees said: “The stolen items have significant monetary value, but as unique artefacts of the Duke of Norfolk’s collection have immeasurably greater and priceless historical importance.
“We therefore urge anyone with information to come forward to the police to assist them in returning these treasures back where they belong.”
Police urged anyone with information to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.